The One Where the Ukrainian Cleaning Lady Initiates Conversation at the Urinal

Scene: McDonalds Bathroom, Kiev, Ukraine

Time: 12:03-:04 pm

Date: October 8, 2011

So today I had my first experience in going to the bathroom with a lady friend. It was exciting, it was a rush and it was educational.

Because I wasn’t expecting it at all.

So there I was, eating at McDonalds because nobody else has signs that I can recognize or read. The Cold War is long gone but I defy you to find a sign, one single sign, that incorporates English. The other countries at least give you the English option (even if it is second or third on the rung of languages — its there). Go to Kiev and you are 100% at the mercy of WingDings.

Я не можу читати біса це лайно. Що це чертовски сказати, Алекс?

If you just said, “I can’t fucking read this shit. What does it say, Alex?,” well, good fucking guess, kid. Because there is no way you knew that is what it actually said.

So was/is Toys ‘Я Us communist? Could be.

Now before I get to this story, please permit me to set the scene of the last day — and the language barrier. Which is enormous…

Just to get to the hostel that I’m staying at — I had to ask two little cute blondes in various spots to help me. “Excuse me. Do you speak English?”

A viddle.” [hmmm, interesting second definition]

A viddle is better than what I can speak in Ukrainian/Russian, which is, a fuckin’ vot vess than a viddle.

The one girl – whose name was Tommy Salo, I think — actually spoke a whole lot for knowing a viddle. She helped me get on my way and actually physically took me to the transfer station. As we were on the train, which was so packed that we were basically wearing the same jacket (I held the rail, she held my bicep), she looks up at me and is like “you exchange at next stop.” Then we stop and I just get swarmed out like a collapsing section of an Argentine soccer stadium (or the Army Navy game at the Vet back in the day).

I manage to catch Tommy Salo again, wave goodbye and say thanks. She smiles. I wanted to tell her how excellently she played in the Gold Medal game in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994 but just didn’t have the chance to. I think she was about all of 18. So as I’m standing there I decide to move into the less congested area — and I see another girl. A super cute girl in fact and I walk up to her and ask about her proficiency in English.

“A viddle.”

Pretty sure that means “You’re cute enough for me to talk to, so I’ll agree to talk to you.” Because, well, I’ve learned through observation that girls that don’t want to talk to guys say that they don’t speak English — then laugh with their friends and speak English. So if they think you are cute, as a foreigner, they’ll help. I figured this out earlier today while heading to the one university close by. Daryna, my hostel girl, also told me that this is the case.

So I ask cute blonde, Aleksandra (hi Aleksandra, I’m Alek, I guess) if she can point me in the right direction to a specific train. She says, “I’ll walk with you and show you.” Okay, great. Halfway to our destination she gets a call and stops suddenly. “I must go, I have work to meet with client, but you take Olympiaska station. Go right on platform. Take two maybe three stops. Can’t miss it. Facebook me though… let me know that you made it safe.”

Thanks. Prostitute, I’m assuming.

But prostitute was right on. So she was like Casper the Friendly Prostitute. And, for all of you girls out there, prostitution in Eastern Europe is a career. And they probably get paid a shitload more than you get at your desk job or teaching job. I would consider it for a few months if you need to pay the bills. But, go to Germany — its apparently awesome there.

“Jess, of curse.”

welcome to kyiv

So anyway — I finally get to the hostel only to realize that I probably could have walked eight blocks over to my hostel from the main train station instead of ride up 20 blocks, transfer, and then ride back 15 blocks on another train to go about an inch and a half on the map. No mind, it was a solid education.

I Facebook message the cute blonde that helped me and tell her I made it. She wants to hang out. Turns out she is a prostitute but, seriously, just look at the picture and tell me you wouldn’t at least consider it. –>

We’ll see if she’s up for just hanging out (and not the kind of me giving her money to have sex). Or if she’s a fan of Shakira (who’s opening the stadium in my backyard tonight). We’ll see if she responds.

Daryna, my little Ukrainian girlfriend/hostel girl then shows me everywhere I need to go for this trip. I ask about exchanging money and where to grab food (supermarket location, restaurants, etc.). She shows me and then off I go last night looking for these places. I find the supermarket — no English. Fucking-A great. I shop based on logo recognition — although it doesn’t help much since the bottles and products look different. I score with Nestea Lemon Iced Tea but strike out massively with water. I picked up soda water. It sucked. I then go back to the hostel, grab my passport and then hoof it off to a buffet.

my window view

That doesn’t end well because it doesn’t start well. I can’t read what anything is, nobody speaks English and I can’t tell if I have enough money from the $20 I exchanged at the airport to complete the transaction. So I duck out and look for greener pastures.

And find the Golden Arches. Rainbow emerges………………………ahhhhhhhhhhh. I’ll have the porn burger, please.

Роял Чізбургер™

Which only conjures up memories of this…

And, since it is next to a metro station — prostitutes are hanging out outside of it with spotters inside. Nobody pays me any attention when I walk in. But then I ask to order in English and one girl helps out. I opt for the Big Mac and fries. Standard fair, can’t fuck it up.

Soon after, I’m being bothered left, right and center. I then sit upstairs to eat and look over the scene below. I notice the scheme in a millisecond. I also realize that I’ll be in the thick of it soon. The prostitutes mind their own business then some male walks up to them, tells them something (presumably information about who is a foreigner) and points the person out. The girl then goes over and talks to a corresponding person. Some leave together, others are kind but ultimately turn the girl away and she returns back to their observation deck.

I believe this is Kiev’s version of social networking.

A group of girls are sitting to my right, and the one says something in Ukrainian to me. She isn’t a prostitute. I don’t respond. She repeats. I finally look at her and then it comes out. “Where are you from?” I say America and that was it. She excuses herself from her friends and walks over. “Not married. How old?”

26.

“Oh. I’m 14. What part of America are you from?”

The part that you get arrested propositioning a 14-year old. She was nice enough but I told her eventually that she was just way too young.

“My Dad is 15 years older than my Mom though.”

Well, sweetheart, I still have Daddy beat.

Then another girl, who is alone, comes up to me as I’m throwing out my trash. “I have place.”

Me too! Neat!

But that was nothing. Once I left McDonalds, six separate prostitutes came up to me for “hanging out” at their place.

False Excuse #1 to get rid of them: But I have AIDS. [No problem]
FE #2: But I am on parole for killing prostitutes. [No problem]
FE #3: But I am gay. [No problem]
FE #4: But I don’t have any money. [Problem!]

So that is the way to get them to ignore you — I’d love to hang out, but I don’t have any money. And, just like that, they were gone.

I also learned how corrupt the cops are here — and they are every 100 meters. Fortunately Daryna told me to have my passport ready and to have the Hostel’s number on me at all times because of this. The best thing to do is never make eye contact but two cops stopped me and tried to give me the old “Foreigners fine” — one told me that I had to pay a fine for walking on the wrong side of the street. I then saw a kid doing the exact same thing and questioned — so you’ll fine him then right? HEY KID, COME HERE, YOU NEED TO BE FINED TOO! FOR DOING WHATEVER I DID!”

No, no… if we fine him — he cry.

“Well check this out, if you fine me — I take your picture and badge number and then I call the United States Embassy whose number I have programmed into my (nonexistent) phone (that I left in the United States). I will make sure you are reprimanded and punished. I will then press charges on you for discrimination and make money off of this. Still want to fine me, because I’d love to make an example of you.”

You have invalid passport, I arrest you unless you pay fine — 1000.

“Oh really, what about my passport is invalid? And do you take ‘No’ as currency?”

Passport not current.

“Right, so London, Prague, Budapest, Brno, Krakow, Warsaw and your very own immigration people missed that one. May I see where it says that my passport is ‘not current’.”

[gives passport to me] [I put passport in my pocket]

“Thanks guys, that was fun. I’ll catch you later. Next time try to scam somebody that isn’t twice as smart as you two guys combined.” [I walk away]

i'll take my chances in a foot race, thanks.

I arrest you now.

“Sure you do, because if I took off running you’d never catch me in a foot race. So how about you just try to scam somebody else. Deal? Or will my arrest report state ‘Arrested for being smarter than me.'”

Cops all over the world are just as fucking dumb as cops in America. No problems after that.

But my jaunt to McDonalds was a pivotal one — now I have a place to even any playing field if/when I’m hungry. Which is why — earlier today — I was eating lunch there.

And I had the sudden urge to need to use the bathroom. Knowing that the McDonalds is about 1/2 miles away (or more) from the hostel, I just decided to go into the bathroom. To my surprise — its use was free — and it was spotless.

Regardless, my Dad taught me a great trick when I was a child about never having to touch anything with your hands and thus not needing to wash them leaving the restroom. And the trick is the following: unzip your pants and then flip your underwear or boxers down and tuck it behind your balls (called the flip tuck). Doing this means that you don’t have to touch your penis. It also give your penis a launch pad because your balls are, in essence, flipped up in front of you — and your penis rests in firing position. Then you cross your arms and lean back and force pressure to your pelvis… and boom, pee rocket. No dribble effect. Upon completion you just shimmy and jump a bit, bounce your pecker off of your balls and boom — clean up completed. Still haven’t touched anything. Untuck you underwear from behind your balls, re-zip pants and then go on your way. Open door with hand draped in towel, shirt, whatever. There you go, successful peeing in public restrooms.

1.5 liters coming atcha. we gotta a hot one.

For the record: I always wash my hands — except when going in a public bathroom, because I don’t touch anything on my body or on the nastiness that surrounds my body when peeing in a public bathroom.

But on this day, my flip tuck trick was in full tilt. I step back a bit from the urinal so as to fully stay away from any diseases that could do osmosis if I’m too close to the urinal. I also don’t have performance anxiety — which is why this trick helps. So there I am, peeing, and the door opens. No big deal, happens all of the time. I pay no attention to it and continue. Then I hear a woman’s voice. I turn my head and, midstream, calmly say, “What the fuck are you doing?!”

English, instantly.

I'm the bald guy on the left...

“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just the cleaner. Please, continue. Act like I’m not even here.” [peeing continues]

“Are you on vacation?” [peeing continues]

“You sound like you are from the US. Where are you from?” [peeing continues]

“Philadelphia, eh? Never been there, but my husband and I love to travel. I’ve been to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami.” [peeing continues]

[Door wide open — girls sit down at table that can now see inside Men’s room] [peeing continues]

[I ask if she can close door because patrons can see me]

“Oh that’s no problem. I’ll be two seconds anyway.” [peeing continues]

“So where are you headed after Kiev?” [peeing continues]

“Do you like it so far? How long are you here until?” [peeing continues]

[peeing stops] [unflip flip tuck] [zip up pants] [walk out]

[While leaving] “Well young man, you enjoy yourself while you are in town, and come back here anytime. I’m here every day and I hope that you were satisfied with the cleaning.”

And where the hell were you (McDonalds cleaning lady) when I needed help finding directions from the train station?

I walk out the door, shaking my head, and the one girl is laughing that had a full view of the conversation. And presumably my penis while I’m urinating. I start laughing too. She can’t speak English but her face was all red and I just say the only thing I can say in Ukrainian.

“Вибачте.”

Which means, sorry, I think.

She then says, “you speak Ukrainian?”

A viddle.

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